November 13, 2017

Medicare readmission reduction program linked to increased mortality rates

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor’s Note

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program has had the unintended consequence of increased short- and long-term mortality in heart failure patients, this study finds.

Five years ago, as part of the Affordable Care Act, federal policy makers introduced the Hospital Readmission Reduction program, which penalizes hospitals for not reducing Medicare patient readmissions.

This study of 115,245 Medicare beneficiaries at 416 hospitals found a reduction in 30-day (from 20.0% to 18.4%) and 1-year (from 57.2% to 56.3%) readmissions, and an increase in 30-day (from 7.2% to 8.6%) and 1-year (31.3% to 36.3%) mortality rates.

The findings are a reminder that, like drugs and devices, public health policies should be tested in a rigorous fashion before their widespread adoption, the researchers say.

 

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